The Kings set the tone early Tuesday night, scoring three goals in the first period en route to a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
Calvin Pickard was making his 13th career NHL start for the Avalanche, and the Kings put the pressure on the rookie goaltender from the get-go. Pickard surrendered three goals on the Kings’ first eight shots, getting pulled in favor of Reto Berra just over 14 minutes into the contest.
“You know, it’s easier when you’re scoring,” Kyle Clifford said following the win. “But at the same time, you’ve got to stick to your game-plan, and I think that’s just our focus.”
Marian Gaborik got the Kings on the board just over seven minutes into the game on their first power play of the evening. Gaborik, who was set up in Colorado’s crease, redirected home a Brayden McNabb shot from the point to give the Kings an early 1-0 lead.
Jeff Carter followed suit moments later, burying the Kings’ second goal of the evening off of a give-and-go sequence with Jordan Nolan after Trevor Lewis forced a Colorado turnover in the neutral zone.
Tyson Barrie got the Avalanche on the board less than a minute after Carter’s tally, but Brayden McNabb was quick to respond; scoring his second goal of the season to give the Kings a 3-1 lead.
The offense continued for the Kings in the second period, as Kyle Clifford tacked onto the lead, scoring his fifth goal of the season. As the Kings buzzed in Colorado’s zone, Anze Kopitar fired a shot into traffic. Kyle Clifford, stationed in front of Colorado’s net, punched home the rebound from Kopitar’s shot with one hand, beating Reto Berra through the five hole.
McNabb, who registered the secondary assist on Clifford’s goal, posted a new career-high for points in a single game with three. McNabb finished the night with a goal and two assists.
Alex Tanguay got the Avalanche to within two goals midway through the third period, but Jake Muzzin responded just over a minute later to give the Kings a 5-2 lead – the night’s eventual final score.
“You know, I think we’re playing good hockey,” Clifford said. “Obviously there are still a few things we’d like to clean up, but I think our main focus is always just focusing on the next game.”
And that next game will be huge for the Kings, as they get ready to face the Vancouver Canucks – who are three points ahead in the standings, sitting in the Pacific Division’s second-place slot.
Brayden McNabb (1G, 2A) led all Kings players in points scored (3), Tyler Toffoli in shots taken (5), Matt Greene in hits delivered (5), Matt Greene in shots blocked (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (25:25). Jonathan Quick made 21 saves in the win.
With the win, the Kings are riding a four-game point streak. The Kings’ overall record improves to 32-21-13, their mark away from STAPLES Center jumps to 11-14-6. The Kings will finish their road trip Thursday night before returning to Los Angeles when they pay a visit to Rogers Arena for a date with the Vancouver Canucks; the puck is slated to drop at 7:00PM PT.